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Bradford's injury tough to watch, but too early for OU sky to fall
Watching the BYU-Oklahoma game on Saturday night was painful.
Not because the No. 20 Cougars pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory (the No. 3 Sooners were 22-point favorites in Arlington, Texas). Upsets are probably the most exciting part of college football.
The painful part was looking at Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford grimacing on the ground after taking a hit from BYU linebacker Coleby Clawson. Nothing wrong with the hit. It was clean. Just bad luck for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Bradford hit the turf hard on his right shoulder and didn't return. He was diagnosed with a sprained AC joint on his throwing shoulder and it's unknown how long he'll be out.
Bradford took an obvious financial risk by returning to Oklahoma and not entering the 2009 NFL Draft. Shortly after he made the decision, I wrote about how much money he was passing up.
I have to admire the kid, though. Many will say after this injury that Bradford made the wrong decision. Easy to say now. I'm not going to do that.
Bradford showed loyalty to his school and to his teammates. His 4.0 GPA suggests that he cares greatly about his education. Who am I to say he made the wrong decision? I don't believe that.
You don't see modern-day athletes pass on that kind of draft position to stay in school. That's why it was painful watching Bradford being helped off the field.
But it happened and OU must move on. So where do the Sooners go from here?
I sense that many OU fans are calling for the sky to fall, but I'd hold off on that for now, especially this far ahead of the conference schedule.
Here's the deal: The next two weeks, Oklahoma faces Idaho State and Tulsa at home. These should be victories, even without Bradford. I wouldn't expect him to play in either contest. A week after Tulsa, the Sooners have a bye. Not a bad time for a week off.
Then, on Oct. 3, Oklahoma travels to Miami (Fla.). That's four weeks from now. The Associated Press recently reported Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter missed two games from a sprained AC joint last season. The second game Painter returned, he passed for 448 yards and five touchdowns.
This isn't the end of the world for OU. Sure, Bradford is out of the Heisman race, but who cares? And yes, Oklahoma has a small margin for error, but (I hate that I'm saying this) one game at a time.
Surely, the Sooners can emphasize running the ball with Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray and beat Idaho State and Tulsa the next two weeks at home. Oklahoma has won 24 straight home games. No problem.
There's a decent chance Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham will be back in time for Miami. Win that one and that's three straight victories heading into the conference schedule. Anything can happen.
I'll move on to the return of Conference Chatter's weekly awards from the weekend's action. I've added a new category into the mix for this year. Once the non-conference schedule ends, I'll probably add another one or two.
Performer of the week: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Gabbert, in his first start in taking over for Chase Daniel, completed 25 of 33 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns against a respectable Illinois opponent. The Fighting Illini were 6.5-point favorites in the Arch Rivalry game from St. Louis, but Gabbert picked them apart.
All offseason, I heard how Gabbert possessed better tools than Daniel when it came to being a prototypical pocket passer. Saturday, those tools were on display. Gabbert hit seven different receivers, including his apparent go-to guy, Danario Alexander, who caught 10 passes for 132 yards. Gabbert can run a little bit, too (10 carries, 39 yards, TD).
The Big 12 has owned the Big Ten lately, with recent victories in the Alamo Bowl (Mizzou over Northwestern), the Insight Bowl (Kansas over Minnesota), the Fiesta Bowl (Texas over Ohio State) and Saturday's Arch Rivalry (Mizzou has won the past five meetings).
Biggest surprise of the week: Kansas State's weak debut
If Saturday's display was any indication on how the rest of the season will go for K-State, it may be a long year for King Snyder and the 'Cats. I mean, 21-17 over an FCS opponent in Massachusetts? At home? Yikes.
K-State ran the ball effectively with Daniel Thomas (23-104) and Keithen Valentine (11-89), but it committed three turnovers and Carson Coffman's debut at quarterback (14-of-27) was less than inspiring.
Sleeper alert: D.J. Monroe, Texas
Talk about an initial impression. The freshman fireplug ran back a kickoff for an 89-yard touchdown the very first time he touched the ball in a Longhorns' uniform. He also contributed nine carries for 64 yards.
Vondrell McGee didn't do anything to lock down the starting spot he earned heading into the weekend. Despite rushing for a team-high 70 yards and a score, he fumbled twice. Monroe may push him for touches in the coming weeks.
Most significant win of the week: No. 9 Oklahoma State 24, No. 13 Georgia 10
Beautiful way to start the year for the Cowboys. And a nice win for the Big 12 over the SEC. The last two matchups (Cotton Bowl, BCS Championship) hadn't gone the conference's way. I'm still not calling the Big 12 the best conference in the country, but this was an encouraging start.
Usually, the Sorrentino Scale would follow, but Colorado is playing host to Colorado State Sunday night, about the same time this entry is being published. Look out for the scale, along with another episode of ConferenceChatterTV, to be released Monday afternoon.
That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.